Taco trucks may be synonymous with Twitter in the rest of the country, but LA’s local Mexican food scene predates it all. The movement’s longevity means that the quintessential, life-altering Mexican joints of our past will long outlive us in the future.
Mexican cuisine is diverse in both substance and delivery. Each region produces unique dishes that match its local resources and the flavor of its people. From Baja taco joints to the haute cuisine of Mexico City, you can eat it all in Los Angeles.
With hundreds of joints to choose from, where you go next?
Start by working through the nine best Mexican restaurants in the city. Come hungry and with a wad of cash because you’ve never had tacos until you’ve tried these LA institutions.
Best Mexican Restaurants and Food Trucks in LA
Can you handle the heat of the City of Angels or its incredible Mexican food scene?
From Baja to Oaxaca, our list includes something for everyone, especially anyone down with crickets.
Oaxaca is the best place to start any list of incredible restaurants, and Guelaguetza conjures up the Mexican city like nowhere else in California.
Named for the Guelaguetza Festival, a celebration of the state’s 16 different ethnolinguistic groups, the restaurant isn’t just the best Oaxacan spread in LA County. Some say it’s the best thing to happen north of the border.
Come for the vinyl tablecloths and tequila, but stay for the broad spread of moles, each one more intense than the last.
Do the right thing and order the crickets. Everyone else did.
2. El Cholo
Go old school at this establishment Mexican-American eatery. Come to El Cholo for the things that the restaurant made standard across the country: chimichangas, enchiladas, and tableside guacamole.
Lighter options like ceviche and fish tacos are available, but know that the hustle lies in the classic dishes. So show some respect to this OG restaurant, which was here before you and will remain after you’re gone.
There’s no excuse not to visit. The original downtown L.A. location no longer stands alone. Choose from one of the company’s new spots in:
- Santa Monica
- La Habra
- Anaheim Hills
- Corona del Mar
Love El Cholo but want something different? Keep it in the family and head to their seafood grill – The Cannery at Newport Beach.
3. Mariscos Jalisco
Any shop with Jalisco in the name begs for a good time. The first taco truck or lonchero, as the locals know them, on our list is no exception.
Come to Mariscos Jalisco with a fistful of dollars and order anything with shrimp – especially the tacos dorado de camaron.
The less we say about Mariscos Jalisco, the better: you need to taste it to believe it.
Keep in mind that Mariscos Jalisco is like the El Cholo of Taco trucks. It’s an LA original that shaped the world of Mexican we see today. Everyone there has already been or is willing to pretend they have.
Where will you find the truck? Like most OG’s, they are inactive on Twitter. But you’ll catch one of their three trucks at:
- 3040 E. Olympic (90023)
- 10th and Towne Ave (90021)
- 753 Holt Ave (91767)
It bears repeating: order the shrimp tacos.
4. Soho Taco
Bring some of LA’s best tacos to your events without spilling in the car.
No list is complete without the city’s third arm of Mexican cuisine. We have restaurants and loncheros, but Soho Taco offers some of the best Mexican catering in town.
Event organizers work with the team at Soho Taco to design a menu that perfectly suits their event. This company puts together the street tacos everyone loves but adds a gourmet edge thanks to the executive chef’s experience at some of the best places in town including Luna Mexican Grill, Taco Rosa, and Taco Mesa.
Sonoratown is a newcomer to the taco scene, but it boldly opened up a downtown space where it faces off nothing but the best competition.
Their gamble paid off. Not only at the bean and cheese burritos in this downtown eatery like nothing else you’ve had before, but Sonoratown does so well it’s now open for dinner.
Sonoratown serves up tacos in the Sonoran style under the leadership of Teodoro Rodriguez. As it turns out, LA loves them because their carne asada taco shut down the competition during the L.A. Taco contest.
The Mexican seafood capital for Acaponeta is famous for its Pescado Zaradeado, ceviches, and stews.
One of Acaponeta’s finest now brings these traditional dishes to Inglewood (and Mar Vista) putting them in easy reach of anyone who can’t live without a fish taco.
Why visit Coni’Seafood? The chefs here import all their seafood directly from Nayarit, and it’s the only joint in Los Angeles that offers Snook fish. If you can’t get to Mexico, Coni’Seafood brings Mexico to you.
7. Tire Shop Taqueria
True story: the taqueria you should visit next doesn’t have a name. People know it in two ways: by its location next to a tire shop and its excellent carne asada.
Brave the line at this far-from nondescript taqueria and the carne asada you walk away and every other taco you eat will have you wishing you were back at the tire shop.
8. Leo’s Taco Truck
Remember what we said about anything from Oaxaca? Leo’s is run by a couple of brothers from the southern town who put together a Mexico City-style lonchero that quickly multiplied into a small fleet.
Visit Leo’s for the al pastor, and don’t be surprised if you need to grab one for the road.
9. Guerilla Tacos
Guerilla offers something different almost every single week. The boys down at the truck use fresh, local ingredients in season but pair them in a way you’ve never had before.
The tortillas are all Mexico, but the inspiration for the fillings comes from the city. We can’t tell you what to order because it will change before you get there.
Vamos a la Los Angeles
Can’t make it to Mexico?
Taste the joys of nearly every regional dish right in your backyard here in California.
The city is home to some of the best Mexican restaurants outside of Mexico, and with hundreds of restaurants to choose from, you’ll never run out of options.
What’s your favorite Mexican place in LA? Share your secrets in the comments below.